24 Option A is summarised thus

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					                                                                                            Report No 104/02

                                               ANGUS COUNCIL

                                          EDUCATION COMMITTEE

                                               22 JANUARY 2002

1     SCOTTISH EXECUTIVE CONSULTATION ON REVIEW OF ASSESSMENT WITHIN NEW NATIONAL
      QUALIFICATIONS
2     SCOTTISH QUALIFICATIONS AUTHORITY NATIONAL QUALIFICATIONS SUBJECT REVIEWS

                               REPORT BY THE DIRECTOR OF EDUCATION




ABSTRACT

The purpose of this report is to seek the Education Committee’s endorsement of the consultation responses
already submitted by officers of the Education Department in order to comply with consultation deadlines set
respectively by SEED and SQA.


1      RECOMMENDATIONS

1.1    It is recommended that the Education Committee:

       (a)   notes the terms of this report;

       (b)   notes the key issues addressed in the SEED and SQA Consultation documents;

       (c)   notes and endorses the responses prepared by officers of the Education Department which
             have already been submitted in order to comply with consultation deadlines;

       (d)   notes in particular the attached response to the SEED consultation document.


2      SEED CONSULTATION EXERCISE: KEY ISSUES

2.1    On 20 September 2001 the then Minister for Education, Europe and External Affairs, Jack McConnell,
       issued a consultation document on the Review of Assessment within New National Qualifications.
       The consultation exercise sought to explore views on two different models for the assessment and
       certification of new national qualifications courses. Respondents were asked to submit their views by
       20 December 2001.

2.2    The consultation document which offered two main options for change emanated from the
       deliberations of the National Qualifications Steering Group.

2.3    The options brought forward for consultation known as Option A and Option B both assume that:

        •    national qualifications courses will continue to comprise a number of units
        •    graded awards would continue to be given on the basis of external assessment
        •    an appropriate range of internal assessments would continue to be used to give feedback to
             students and teaching staff during the course and to generate evidence to be used in appeals
             against the results of external assessments

2.4    Option A is summarised thus:

       “Candidates could achieve a course award by successful external assessment, with unit certification
       available as an option. This would enable a reduction in internal assessment for candidates who did
       not wish to acquire unit certification”.

       Option B is summarised thus:
      “Candidates could achieve an ungraded course award by demonstrating they had achieved the full
      range of unit learning outcomes, with an optional external examination available for candidates who
      wished to achieve a graded award. This would enable a reduction in external assessment, and in
      related internal assessment (such as production of evidence for appeals)”.

2.5   Respondents were invited to submit their responses to a specified number of questions on a profoma
      issued among the consultation papers. The Angus Council response is provided on this proforma in
      the Appendix to this report. It should be noted that the “five approaches” referred to in question
      1 refer to the following:

      •   Option A – but not Option B
      •   Option B – but not Option A
      •   Option A and Option B
      •   neither Option A nor Option B
      •   any other fundamental change

2.6   The option selected in the officer response is the fourth of the above options. The response provided
      in the Appendix emphasises that neither Option A nor Option B would of themselves alleviate
      concerns expressed by teaching staff and pupils. Moreover, the response advises SEED that it is the
      uneven burden of assessment in individual subjects which is causing the greatest concern in schools.
      It is the belief of officers of the Education Department that current difficulties should be addressed by:

      •   introducing a level of consistency across all national qualification subjects with one or two unit
          assessments being the maximum for all subjects
      •   introducing national assessment bank items with “headroom”, ie providing assessment items
          which allow candidates to be scored in unit assessments with reference to available grades rather
          than simply be scored on a pass/fail basis

2.7   Assessment within individual national qualification subject areas is, of course, the subject of a parallel
      consultation exercise carried out by the Scottish Qualifications Authority who undertook a review of all
      national qualifications subjects in line with the recommendations of the National Qualifications Task
      Group chaired by the National Exams Co-ordinator.

3     SQA NATIONAL QUALIFICATIONS SUBJECT REVIEW: KEY ISSUES

3.1   As part of this SQA review the views of stakeholders were sought in September 2001 in relation to:

      •   the internal and external assessment of individual subjects
      •   the administration of courses
      •   any other issue related to a specific course/subject

3.2   In carrying out subject reviews, SQA have sought to focus on four areas for improvement:

      •   to make assessment more effective and efficient
      •   to ensure courses have comparable assessment demands at each level
      •   to reduce unnecessary duplication of effort
      •   to reduce the burden of administration associated with assessment

3.3   A proforma for the submission of comments was issued by SQA for completion in respect of each
      subject review. Responses were sought in three phases, by 20 October, by 15 November and by 14
      December 2001.

3.4   Angus responses were prepared by secondary Curriculum Advisory Groups in respect of each
      national qualifications course currently being delivered in Angus secondary schools. The responses
      were submitted to SQA in line with the schedule described above. Common issues which emerged
      across the range of subject responses and which have informed the response to the SEED
      “Option A/Option B” consultation proposals relate to the need for SQA to:

      •   provide more detailed information including exemplars on the standards applied in the marking of
          national qualifications assessments
      •   reduce the number of internal assessments
      •   provide consistency in the number of assessments required across the range of national
          qualifications subjects
      •   develop national assessment bank items with “headroom” for all subjects
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3     CONCLUSION

3.1   The Education Committee is asked to endorse the responses prepared by officers of Angus Council
      including teaching staff. The responses have been informed by extensive deliberations within the
      Curriculum Advisory Groups attended by all Principal Teachers.


4     FINANCIAL IMPLICATIONS

      There are no financial implications arising directly from the contents of this report.


5     HUMAN RIGHTS IMPLICATIONS

      There are no human rights implications arising directly from this report.


6     CONSULTATION

      The Chief Executive, the Director of Law and Administration and the Director of Finance have been
      consulted in the preparation of this report.

      Each Curriculum Advisory Group has been consulted about and has contributed to the drafting of the
      responses to SEED and the SQA consultation exercises which are the subject of this report.




JIM ANDERSON
DIRECTOR OF EDUCATION




BACKGROUND PAPERS

No background papers, as defined by Section 50D of the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973 (other than
any containing confidential or exempt information) were relied on to any material extent in preparing the
above report.




NL/AR




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                   ANGUS COUNCIL - EDUCATION DEPARTMENT

      CONSULTATION ON REVIEW OF ASSESSMENT WITHIN NEW NATIONAL
                           QUALIFICATIONS

Officer Response from Angus Council Education Department

Question 1   "Which of the five approaches do you favour?"

Response     Neither Option A nor Option B

Question 2   "Can you explain why you think this approach is best?"

Response     National Qualifications are based on the principle of continuous assessment with an
             external examination to ensure that a national standard is achieved. Teachers and
             students accept the principle and are becoming more familiar with this structure.

             We therefore believe that neither Option A nor Option B would in themselves
             alleviate the concerns expressed by teaching staff and pupils.

             Option A which allows candidates to achieve a course award by success in the
             external assessment alone, with unit certification available as an option, could result
             in pupils being categorised prematurely and inappropriately. It would be difficult for
             centres to decide with confidence which pupils should complete the unit assessments
             and which are capable of achieving success in the external assessment.

             Option B, which allows candidates to achieve an ungraded course award by
             demonstrating that they have achieved the full range of learning outcomes through
             internal assessment, with an optional external examination for those who wish a
             graded award, also presents problems. There is likely to be an issue of credibility in
             relation to ungraded awards and it is likely that most candidates would wish to
             attempt the external examination in order to obtain a higher value award.

Question 3   "If this approach was implemented, in what way would you use it in your capacity as
             a learner, provider of education, or user of qualifications?"

Response     We believe that it is the uneven burden of assessment in individual subjects which is
             causing the greatest concern in schools.* It should, therefore, be the priority of the
             current Subject Review Panels to reduce the number of internal assessments in
             certain subjects in order to introduce a level of consistency across all subjects, ie one
             or two assessments per Unit should be the maximum for all subjects.

             National Assessment Bank (NAB) items with headroom (allowing candidates to be
             graded) should be developed for all subjects. These could then form part of a prelim
             examination as well as providing an internal assessment instrument for Unit
             Assessment. This approach would reduce the number of assessments over a session
             and would provide an appropriate evidence base for appeals.

*NB    This issue permeates many of the subject review responses which were prepared by groups
       of Angus Principal Teachers and which have been sent to SQA in line with their
       submission deadlines.


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Description: 24 Option A is summarised thus